Rugby Union: Pugh confident of resolving `little spat' with English clubs

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The Independent Online
The language will not have endeared him to the big-ego businessmen who run the major clubs in England, but Vernon Pugh is sure that he can sort out the "little spat" over fixtures.

Pugh, the chairman of the International Rugby Board, believes a sensible solution beckons over the boycott of European games, providing the English clubs and European Rugby Cup Limited "show goodwill". The clubs are unhappy with next season's fixtures which deprive them of cash-creating league games for a block of six weeks.

He urged a commonsense approach and dismissed prospects of an Anglo-French tournament taking over as Europe's premier club competition.

"A lot of water needs to run under many bridges before people can seriously talk about an Anglo-French tournament," he said yesterday. "I say, with a degree of confidence, that European rugby will continue much as it is. This situation appears to be nothing more than yet another little spat.

"If the English clubs' real concerns are about the structure, then with goodwill on all sides, there should be no problem rearranging the schedule. We will sit down and talk."

Cardiff's little spat with the Welsh Rugby Union could see them expelled over their refusal to sign a 10-year agreement with the governing body.

The WRU is losing patience and has called a special general committee meeting for later this month to decide Cardiff's fate.

"Cardiff are only prepared to reach a four-year agreement, which is totally unacceptable," Glanmor Griffiths, the WRU general committee chairman, said.

The agreement, which all seven of Cardiff's Premier Division rivals have signed, guarantees each top-flight club pounds 500,000 a year.

A wake-up call from Leicester is not what most teams would like after a long lay-off, but hosts Coventry cannot wait for today's Tetley's Bitter Cup tie to start. The Premiership Two side have not played since 20 December - a 46-8 thumping by Rotherham - but their coach, Derek Eves, believes the break will be beneficial. "Some players were complaining about being jaded, so the rest has been useful," he said.

In the only Premiership One match Northampton, at home to Sale, will be seeking their first try after failing to cross the opposition line in their last three League games.